Local Youth & young adult

Young adult events like Parables and Pubs serve as on-ramps to parish life

Clare Coleman partakes in a Parables and Pubs event at Brew Lab in downtown Overland Park. The group, which typically meets on the second Monday of the month, brings together young adults for an evening of fellowship and meaningful conversations. PHOTO BY JOE CONRAD

by Moira Cullings

OVERLAND PARK — It’s a Monday night at Brew Lab here, and the place is abuzz with live music and conversations.

A group of young adults blend in with the regular crowd, but their presence has a deeper purpose.

They’re gathered for Parables and Pubs, a monthly event that brings together young adults from around the Kansas City metro.

“It’s supposed to create fertile ground for deep conversations,” said Joe Passantino.

“The hope is that people feel not only called to come,” he continued, “but to bring their friend, family, coworker or neighbor that you might want to do a low entry or first step [into the faith with].

“It’s just a little bit less threatening than church can be sometimes.”

Joe Passantino, left, created Parables and Pubs to give young adults an opportunity to gather in Johnson County for evenings of meaningful fellowship. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

Passantino, minister for young adults at Church of the Ascension in Overland Park, launched the first Parables and Pubs event last July.

“The concept was borrowed from something I had seen work over in Ireland called Parables and Pints,” he said.

The evening offers live music, typically by JohnMarc Skoch, board games, prayer and a parable by Passantino that opens the door for deeper conversations.

It usually takes place on the second Monday of each month and draws around 40-60 attendees.

Abigail Gartland, a parishioner at St. Michael the Archangel in Leawood, co-founded Parables and Pubs and is in charge of hospitality and welcoming.

She explained the importance of offering events like this to young adults in Johnson County.

“It’s hard,” she said, “because we’re at such an interesting age where some of us are single, some of us are married, some of us have kids, some of us are in [the] seminary.

“We’re all over the place, but we’re all the same age.”

Young adults converse during a Parables and Pubs event at Brew Lab in downtown Overland Park. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

Gartland said it can be difficult to find fulfilling friendships after college or when moving to a new city.

She hopes Parables and Pubs combats the isolation young adults can feel.

“It’s a way to make sure that everybody has a place,” she said, “because nobody is really super settled into a parish at this age or has kids that go to the Catholic schools.

“We wanted to make sure that we had a place for everybody to come together.”

Passantino said the Parables and Pubs is just a starting point.

“The goal long term is to be an on-ramp to parish life,” he said. “It’s not just a neat event. But the goal is to push [the young adults] toward connecting to more people in church, and then, eventually being active in their parish.”

When young adults fill out a form on the Parables website, they’re asked to include their zip code.

“Our long-term hope is that someone from [their] parish eventually reaches out to them,” said Passantino, and asks them to participate in parish life.

“I think personal invites are the way for young adults to get to know Jesus,” he continued. “If they can come to a bar and get a personal invite to have a deeper faith, I think that’s a good first step.”

JohnMarc Skoch performs for the patrons and Parables and Pubs participants at Brew Lab in downtown Overland Park. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

Parables and Pubs wouldn’t be as successful without Brew Lab.

“I knew that the missing piece to make that happen was a bar that was willing to partner with us on some level or let us use the space,” said Passantino.

While he was having lunch at Brew Lab, his friend suggested considering it for the event.

“I talked to the general manager there, and she ended up being a former student from Aquinas,” said Passantino.

She was happy to host the group, and Passantino came to find out that one of Brew Lab’s owners is a professor at Benedictine College in Atchison.

The staff has been more than welcoming.

“It’s a slow night for them,” said Passantino, “so they allow us to bring our own music and do a parable halfway through and pray.”

Gartland encourages young adults ages 21 to 35 to consider coming out to the next Parables and Pubs event.

“It is very low stress,” she said. “It’s very laid back but also a fun event.

“I encourage people to come and try it and get to know us. We want to have you there.”

The next Parables and Pubs event is scheduled for May 13 at 7 p.m.

Young adults who are interested in attending future events can fill out a form and stay updated online at: kcascension.org/parables.

About the author

Moira Cullings

Moira attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park and Benedictine College in Atchison. She majored in marketing, minored in psychology and played center midfield for the women’s soccer team. Moira joined The Leaven staff as a feature writer and social media editor in 2015. After a move to Denver, Moira resumed her full-time position at The Leaven and continues to write and manage its website, social media channels. Her favorite assignment was traveling to the Holy Land to take photos for a group pilgrimage in 2019.

Leave a Comment